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Two groups of adult male Munich-Wistar rats and a third group of nondiabetic age-matched and weight-matched normal control rats underwent micropuncture study 1 mo, and morphologic studies 14 mo, after induction of streptozotocin diabetes or sham treatment. All animals were fed standard rat chow. Diabetic rats received daily ultralente insulin to maintain stable moderate hyperglycemia (approximately 350 mg/dl). In addition, one group of diabetic rats was treated with the angiotensin I converting enzyme inhibitor, enalapril, 15 mg/liter of drinking water. Average kidney weight, whole kidney and single-nephron glomerular filtration rate, and glomerular plasma flow rate were elevated to similar values in both groups of diabetic rats, relative to normal control rats. Non-enalapril-treated diabetic rats exhibited significant elevations in mean glomerular capillary hydraulic pressure and transcapillary hydraulic pressure gradient, compared with the other groups studied, and only this group eventually developed marked and progressive albuminuria. Likewise, histological examination of the kidneys at 14 mo disclosed a high incidence of glomerular structural abnormalities only in non-enalapril-treated diabetic rats. These findings indicate that prevention of glomerular capillary hypertension in rats with diabetes mellitus effectively protects against the subsequent development of glomerular structural injury and proteinuria. This protection is afforded despite pronounced hyperglycemia and elevated levels of glucosylated hemoglobin, further supporting our view that hemodynamic rather than metabolic factors predominate in the pathogenesis of diabetic glomerulopathy.